With Hillary Clinton expressing doubts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership after much delay, we see another instance where the Bernie Sanders campaign has pushed her to the left. It is a modest victory, of course, as she made no to commitments to pull the U.S. out of the deal, as Sanders has. But she has recently proposed new methods of oversight of the large financial firms, including a “risk fee” for institutions that rely on volatile short-term lending for funding, your Goldman Sachs and not your Wells Fargos, with the hopes that it will encourage more responsible decisions. Such oversight would require legislation passing Congress, which seems quite unlikely given investment firms’ presence in Congress. If such legislation were to pass it would at most impose fees too small to actually reign in these firms.
It seems then that the Sanders campaign has modestly pushed Clinton to the left on matters related to finance and trade. But he has not pushed her to the left on matters of foreign policy, because he himself has been quite militaristic, though paying lip service to leftist derision of Washington hawkishness in saying that war is “terrible”. Asked if he supports the use of drones and special forces, Sanders responded, “All of that and more”. This blank-check support of military force is irresponsible saber rattling that reveals Sanders’ entrenchment in Washington’s culture of perpetual war. It’s hard to imagine that Sanders doesn’t appreciate how contradictory supporting spending billions on a war industry to bomb poor people in foreign lands is with the tenets of socialism. Alas, Sanders is hedging his bets – if he doesn’t get the nomination, and he will not, he hasn’t alienated himself from the Washington military complex, and if he does get the nomination, it will not be possible for his competitor to label him “soft” on terrorism at a time when war consciousness is resurging with renewed fears of terrorist attacks in the U.S. Sanders is not pushing Clinton to the left on foreign policy, and is thus being a half-hearted socialist, but perhaps a full-bodied politician.